Shortly after the Fort Hood Shooting, I published an article entitled Muslim Americans Must Obey U.S. Laws; Major Nidal Hasan Violated Islamic Doctrine, in which I detailed how Islamic doctrine dictates that Muslims are religiously obligated to obey the laws of the land. (This is similar to the Jewish concept of dina d’malchuta dina.) The article generated an interesting discussion, with Islamophobes struggling to prove that Major Nidal Hasan’s treason was sanctioned by the Islamic religion.
An Islamophobe who routinely comments on our site posted the following:
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 203:
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:
The ‘Prophet said, “It is obligatory for one to listen to and obey (the ruler’s orders) unless these orders involve one disobedience (to Allah); but if an act of disobedience (to Allah) is imposed, he should not listen to or obey it.”
This hadith, and others similar to it, are used by Islamophobes to call into question the loyalty of Muslim Americans. Muslims must obey the Sharia over and above the Constitution, they bellow. Yet, what these self-proclaimed defenders of the Western Judeo-Christian tradition fail to mention is that Christians believe in obeying God’s Law (the Christian Sharia) over and above the laws of the land. If God’s Law and the Constitution were to be in conflict, the Christian would be religiously obligated to follow the former.
Let’s take a gander at some reputable Christian “fatwa sites”…The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry decrees:
[Question:] Shall we obey God’s Law or human law?
[Answer:] …The simple answer is that Christians are to obey human law except where that human law violates God’s Law. Our supreme duty is to obey God. Since God tells us to also obey human laws, we should. But, when they come in conflict, we are to “obey God rather than men.”
GotQuestions.org says (emphasis is mine):
Question: “Do Christians have to obey the laws of the land?”
Answer: …We are to obey the government God places over us…
The next question is “Is there a time when we should intentionally disobey the laws of the land?” The answer to that question may be found in Acts 5:27-29, “Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this Name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.’ Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!'” From this, it is clear that as long as the law of the land does not contradict the law of God, we are bound to obey the law of the land. As soon as the law of the land contradicts God’s command, we are to disobey the law of the land and obey God’s law…
And the same site says elsewhere:
God commands us to obey the governmental authorities. The only allowance we have for disobeying the authorities is if they demand that we disobey something God has commanded (Acts 5:29)
Romans 13:1-7 makes it abundantly clear that God expects us to obey the laws of the government. The ONLY exception to this is when a law of the government forces you to disobey a command of God (Acts 5:29).
In fact, the Christian apologist Hugo Grotius (1583-1645)–who is called “the father of modern international law”–writes in his book The Law of War and Peace (as quoted on p.184 of William J Federer’s The Ten Commandments and Their Influence on American Law):
Among all good men one principle at any rate is established beyond controversy, that if the authorities issue any order that is contrary to the law of nature or to the commandments of God, the order should not be carried out. For when the Apostles said the obedience should be rendered to God rather than to men they appealed to an infallible rule of action.
In Judaism as well, there are times when a Jew is obligated to break the laws of the land; Rabbi Israel Schneider writes:
Indeed, there are times when the civil law, in conflict with the halacha [Jewish Law], is not binding.
In fact, this has created problems for the peace process, with some Jews refusing to evacuate the illegal settlements, thereby breaking international law in favor of their interpretation of the Halacha. The Jerusalem Post writes:
Ex-IDF rabbis: Halacha is above military orders
A group of seven former IDF rabbis, including the former chief rabbis of the air force, the navy and the IDF Educational Division, have declared that in situations where Halacha and military orders clash, Halacha takes precedence.
So this belief, of following God’s commands above man’s, is shared by all three of the Abrahamic faiths. It is strange then that Islamophobes, the self-proclaimed defenders of the Western Judeo-Christian tradition, only fear monger when it comes to Islamic beliefs. It is this huge double standard that we have come to expose on our site.
A Muslim is religiously obligated to obey the laws of the land he lives in. But he is only religiously permitted to live in non-Muslim lands in which he is free to practice his religion. If the laws of the land would compel him to sin, then the Muslim is commanded to emigrate to another land where this is not the case. (He is advised to leave the land, but is not permitted to rebel against the authority.) Muslim Americans feel comfortable living in the United States of America, because of the country’s dedication to maintaining the freedom of worship. As such, they feel there is no conflict between being an observant Muslim on the one hand and an American citizen on the other.
Muslim Americans are naturally weary of fighting their coreligionists in foreign wars that they feel are illegal and immoral. However, there is currently no draft, and there has not been one for over thirty years. (The draft is unconstitutional.) As such, Muslims are not forced to fight in wars they feel are religiously impermissible, and thus there is no conflict. At the same time, Muslim Americans feel that they have a very important role to play, building lines of communication and understanding between Muslims and Americans. Muslim Americans believe in using all legal and peaceful political means at their disposal to bring their country away from war and to the path of peace.